If you had to focus on just 4 things to make your next talk great, which would you pick?
That’s a tough call, because so many factors go into a talk. Which is just one reason I was intrigued by the video below.
Another reason I was intrigued?
The video quotes 3 experts I’ve also quoted before:
In the 7½-minute video, Thomas Frank (who has over 2 million YouTube subscribers) explains the 4 aspects of your talk that he recommends you focus on…
To save you time, this clip skips the first 60 seconds (and the last 90) of the original video (when he sets up his topic and promotes some courses).
If you like, you can watch the full 10-minute version on YouTube.
Let’s look at each of the 4 aspects Thomas believes can make your talk great. You can click any of these links to skip ahead, or, just scroll down…
Short of time? Skip to the tips
When you present at work (or at a conference or other speaking event), do you aim to make people feel something specific?
If you do, you’ll have a far higher chance of engaging people, and therefore of achieving your talk’s goal. But if you don’t, your talk’s likely to be quickly forgotten – in less time than it took you to present!
Not convinced? Well, many speaking professionals suggest using emotional elements. For instance, in his book The Naked Presenter, Garr Reynolds writes:
“Content alone is never sufficient.
We need an emotional connection…”
And former president of the National Speakers’ Association, Patricia Fripp says:
Sometimes, do you have trouble engaging people when you’re presenting?
Here’s a great way to fix that:
Give your talk a strong structure.
If you use the structure shared in this post:
- You’ll engage people right from the start.
- You’ll keep them hooked right to the end.
- They’re more likely to think the content you’re presenting’s just what they need.
Actually, you’ll find 2 things in this post that you can use to build a better talk:
- A strong structure for the content you present.
- A 4-step method for writing your speeches (and e-books, newsletters, etc).
Both are set out in the 15-minute video below, by speaker-coach Hugh Culver:
In a hurry? You can skip the video’s intro (of 3½ minutes).
And if you watch on Vimeo, you can even speed up playback.
I came across Hugh’s video a while ago, and was really impressed with how audience-focused the structure is that he presents. I also like that he uses just 4 steps to map out the writing process:
Being asked to give a workshop or presentation at a conference is a fantastic opportunity. What a great way to get you and your message more widely known in your industry!
So if you’re invited to speak at a conference, what specific steps can you take to make the most of the event?
Well, to help you nail your talk, try the 6 tips in this 2-minute video by Colin James:
Colin’s tips are:
When you’re presenting, how do you keep your audience engaged? What do you do, exactly?
Here’s one of the best ways to engage people – yet it’s one of the most human, too, so it’s among the simplest:
Make your talk conversational.
You might still wonder how you should do that though.
So (as explained in more detail in that link), I like to split the process into 3 levels:
What is it about public speaking that you’d be most likely to search for on the internet? You might be surprised which of my posts gets the most search traffic…
The most popular post on this blog – by far – is the one on awesome opening lines. And almost 60 people have commented on it, too. So it’s definitely a hot topic for public speakers.
But if you go looking for an opening line for your talk, I think you’re taking the wrong approach.
Why do I say that? Well, the combination of your audience and your topic are unique. So, if you search the internet for an opening line, you’re very unlikely to find a good fit for your specific talk.
What should you do, then? You’ll find one great answer in this 3-minute video by Kindra Hall.
If you’re invited to speak on a panel, you’ll want to make the most of your preparation (and your time on stage). So to help you prepare, and then take part effectively, here’s a handy 2-minute video.
In it, you’ll find 3 tips from Ben Decker, CEO of Decker Communications. And below the video, you’ll find many ideas and links to expand on Ben’s tips:
Ben starts with a neat point about the context of panel discussions:
“It can be such a great honour
to be invited to be a part of a panel.
People want to hear
– your opinions…”
So, especially if you’re nervous, keep in mind that people value your insights.
Ben then shares his action-based tips for speaking on a panel:
How do you decide whether to tell a deeply personal story in public, such as at work?
In this 4-minute video, Kindra Hall gives you 3 ways to help you choose whether (and how) to share a tricky story like that:
Recently, I came across Kindra’s work online, and I love it! She shares some great advice, and the topic she’s passionate about is storytelling.
In this video, her 3 main points are:
Of the countless presentations you’ve likely heard, how many have really made you listen? Often, they can sound and look a lot like all the rest. That’s why, if you’re like me, they tend to leave you cold.
So when you present, you risk seeming just like all the other presenters. In which case, people can start to tune out – fast! That is, unless you start strong.
What’s the best way to start strong? Involve people emotionally! To do that, mention their hopes or fears surrounding your topic – while still being professional of course. That engages your audience because they’re drawn in at a gut level. And, it’s so different from the norm!
“We need audiences to feel first, and then to think.”
Helio Fred Garcia in Fast Company
Mention their hopes or fears…
I recommend 3 neat ways you can start strong when you present. Choose any 1 of them to open your talk:
If you’ve seen the previous post in this PACE principles series, you’ll know I showed how you can start to engage an audience before you even speak.
To do that, you can make your talk’s title meet these 4 criteria, so it’s:
- P Personal
- A Actionable
- C Conversational
- E Emotional
In this post, you’ll see how to make your whole talk personal – to keep people engaged.
By that I mean using your content to connect with each person in your audience. As people are generally most interested in themselves, one of the best ways you can connect with your audience is to show clearly that you’re focused on them. After you do that, another great way to connect with and therefore engage people is to use genuine emotion.
So, how can you do those things to make your whole talk personal? Well for a start, try these 4 tips, which are arranged roughly from most to least audience-centred: